A method to develop sustainable water management stretegies for an uncertain future

M. Haasnoot, H. Middelkoop, E. van Beek, W.P.A. van Deursen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


Development of sustainable water management strategies involves identification of vulnerability and adaptation possibilities, followed by an effect analysis of these adaptation strategies under different possible futures. Recent scenario studies on water management were mainly ‘what-if’ assessments in one or two future situations. The future is, however, more complex and dynamic. It involves general trends and unexpected events in both the water and the social system. Moreover, the two systems interact: society responds to events and the state of the water system changes in response to management. In this paper we discuss a transdisciplinary approach. Key elements in the concept are (1) the model of pressure, state, impact and response, (2) the Perspectives method to consider uncertainties of social and natural systems and (3) the evaluation of the system using transient scenarios in which we consider time series of trends, events and interaction between the water system and society. The effect analysis is executed with an integrated assessment meta-model based on simple cause–effect relations and response curves.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-381
JournalSustainable development
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Climate change
  • Transient scenarios
  • Uncertainty
  • Sustainable water management

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